If your web site is sitting on your hard drive, it won't do you one bit of good or make you any money. You have to publish your web site. You have to look for a host. A host puts your site on the web, so your web site is available for web surfers 24 hours a day 7 days a week. But choosing the right host is a little tricky. Learn from my painful and costly mistakes, and pick the right host for yourself.
I started with a free hosting service. I thought, "Why do I have to pay when I could get it for free." Right? Wrong!! Their server was down periodically, once a week or so. One day, it became inaccessible. I couldn't see my web site, I couldn't log into my account. No support was available. About 6 month later, the server sent me an e-mail which said they had shut down the business. The worse thing was I didn't have any backup. The server had had an online html editing tool. Earlier I had logged onto my account and edited my site, so all my files were in their computer. Unfortunately, I never made my own back up file. When that host was gone, my web site was gone too.
I got a little smarter. I picked a cheap hosting service. I thought again, "Why do I have pay more when I could get it cheaper?" Right? Not really. It was OK at the beginning. All of my web pages were able to be downloaded in 8 seconds with a 56k modem. Once in a while it slowed down. Sometimes it took more than a minute to download! Then once in a while became almost every time. When I started considering switching the host, I got an e-mail that said they would shut down the business. This time I got the notice a month prior to the shutdown. Again, I had to find another hosting service. Finally, I decided to pay extra for reliability. Since then, I don't have to worry about my site is up or down. A reliable host definitely takes your headache away.
My hosting mistakes ended up not being all mistakes I made. I also didn't have my own domain name. My domain name read www.freehost/myname or myname.freehost.com. My plan had been when I made a little money, I would buy my own domain name. Then I would redirect visitors from my free-host domain name. That plan didn't work. Every time my host shut down, I had to promote a new URL. I lost all previous visitors. They had no way to find out what my new URL was. I wasted time and the money I had to spent on promoting the URL. If I had bought my own domain, I could have kept my previous visitors at least when my host shut down. On top of that problem, I learned that web surfers can tell you are using free hosting service from the URL you have. Having folks know you are using a free hosting service makes it very difficult to earn credibility, and credibility is THE key to making sales in syberspace.
You don't have to buy the latest equipment and spend beaucoup money on every top-notch service, but do pay for your domain name and a good hosting service at least. You can't afford cheap stuff. Really!
© August, 2001